IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
ZELLPAC, INC.,and GUY EMERY,
The United States of America alleges:
1. This action is brought by the United States on behalf of Deborah Norton, Christopher Norton, and Diane Norton pursuant to subsection 812(o) of the Fair Housing Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
Jurisdiction and Venue
2. This Court has jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1345 and 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
3. Venue is proper in that the claims alleged herein arose in the Southern District of Illinois.
4. Deborah Norton was born with Spina Bifida and uses a wheelchair. She is a person with a handicap, as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3602(h).
5. Deborah Norton's two children, Christopher Norton and Diane Norton, are aggrieved persons as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i) because they were injured by the defendants' discriminatory housing practices.
6. At all times relevant, Defendant Zellpac, Inc., owned and operated two buildings located at 908-910 N. Bentley, Marion, Illinois, ("Property") which contains twenty-two one-story, two-bedroom apartments. Zellpac, Inc., is incorporated in the State of Illinois. One of the apartments at the Property is Apartment B located at 910 N. Bentley, Marion, Illinois ("Apartment").
7. At all times relevant to this Complaint, defendant Guy Emery was employed by defendant Zellpac, Inc., and managed the Property.
8. On or about May 22, 2002, Deborah Norton filed a timely complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") pursuant to subsection 810(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a). The complaint alleged that defendant Emery discriminated against her on the basis of disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f).
9. On or about September 3, 2002, Deborah Norton amended her complaint with HUD pursuant to subsection 810(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), to add Zellpac, Inc, as a respondent.
10. On or about August 10, 2004, Deborah Norton amended her complaint with HUD pursuant to subsection 810(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a), to add Christopher Norton and Diane Norton as complainants and to add a 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c) allegation.
11. Pursuant to the requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 3610(a) and (b), the Secretary of HUD conducted and completed an investigation of Deborah Norton's complaint, attempted conciliation without success, and prepared a final investigative report. Based on the information gathered in the investigation, the Secretary, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(1), determined that reasonable cause exists to believe that discriminatory housing practices had occurred. Accordingly, on January 6, 2005, the Secretary issued a Charge of Discrimination ("Charge") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3610(g)(2)(A), charging Defendants with engaging in discriminatory housing practices in violation of the Act.
12. On or about January 18, 2005, defendant Zellpac, Inc., elected to have the Charge resolved in a civil action in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(a).
13. Following the election described in the preceding paragraph, on January 24, 2005, the Secretary of HUD authorized the Attorney General to commence a civil action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 3612(o).
Fair Housing Claims
14. In late-November 2001, plaintiff Christopher Norton responded to an advertisement in the Southern Illinoisan Newspaper for an apartment for his mother, plaintiff Deborah Norton, to rent. Plaintiff Christopher Norton telephoned defendant Guy Emery and told defendant Guy Emery that he was looking for an apartment for his mother who uses a wheelchair.
15. On or about December 17, 2001, plaintiff Christopher Norton met with defendant Guy Emery and viewed the Apartment. During this meeting, plaintiff Christopher Norton again told defendant Guy Emery that he was looking at the Apartment on behalf of his mother who uses a wheelchair.
16. On or about December 17, 2001, defendants Guy Emery and Zellpac, Inc., refused to rent to plaintiff Deborah Norton. Defendant Guy Emery said that he would not rent to plaintiff Deborah Norton because she uses a wheelchair.
17. Christopher Norton and Diane Norton were each harmed as a result of defendants' refusal to rent to Deborah Norton.
18. Defendants, through the actions referred to in paragraphs 14 - 17, above, have:
(a) discriminated in the rental of a dwelling or otherwise made unavailable or denied a dwelling to any renter because of a handicap of that renter, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1), and
(b) made or caused to be made a statement with respect to the rental of a dwelling that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination, or an intent to make such a preference, limitation or discrimination, based on handicap, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 3604(c).
19. Deborah Norton, Christopher Norton, and Diane Norton are each an aggrieved person, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 3602(i), and have suffered damages as a result of defendants' conduct described above.
20. Defendants' discriminatory actions were intentional, willful, and taken in disregard for the rights of plaintiff Deborah Norton.
WHEREFORE, the United States prays that the Court enter an ORDER that:
1. Declares that defendants' discriminatory housing practices, as set forth above, violate the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-19;
2. Enjoins defendants, their agents, employees, and successors, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them from discriminating on the basis of handicap against any person in any aspect of the rental of a dwelling; and
3. Awards monetary damages to plaintiffs Deborah Norton, Christopher Norton, and Diane Norton pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 3612(o)(3) and 3613(c)(1);
The United States further prays for such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.
| ALBERTO R. GONZALES|
| RONALD TENPAS |
United States Attorney
Assistant U.S. Attorney
9 Executive Drive, Suite 300
Fairview Heights, IL 62208
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division _____________________________
STEVEN H. ROSENBAUM
Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
TIMOTHY J. MORAN, Deputy Chief
SARA L. NILES, Trial Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
Document Filed: February 17, 2005 > >